Mexican reporter shot to death in Michoacán state

New York, July 6, 2010—The Committee to Protect Journalists urges Mexican authorities to fully investigate the killing of journalist Hugo Alfredo Olivera, who was found dead today in Michoacán state, according to news reports and CPJ interviews.

Unidentified assailants shot Olivera three times with a 32 mm gun and left his body inside the reporter’s truck in a rural area near the city of Apatzingán, a spokesman at the state prosecutor’s office told CPJ. Olivera’s body was found around 4 a.m., the spokesman said.

Olivera, 27, owner and editor of the Apatzingán-based newspaper El Día de Michoacán and a small local news agency called ADN, had been last seen around 9 p.m. Monday as he was leaving the office to cover a suicide attempt, according to a relative who spoke to CPJ on condition of anonymity. Unidentified individuals ransacked the paper’s offices early today, the Mexican news agency Quadratín reported, taking computer hard drives and flash drives.

“We are shocked by the killing of journalist Hugo Olivera and call on Mexican authorities to fully investigate and effectively prosecute all those responsible for this crime,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ Americas program senior coordinator. “The wave of deadly violence is seriously restricting news coverage and creating an environment of intimidation that has led to widespread self-censorship.”

Olivera was also a correspondent for the Morelia-based newspaper La Voz de Michoacán and a stringer for Quadratín. He reported mainly on crime in Apatzingán and the surrounding area, two reporters at Quadratín and La Voz de Michoacán told CPJ.

In February, Olivera had filed a complaint with the National Commission of Human Rights over a beating by the federal police, which CPJ documented. The journalist had not reported threats before his death, a family member and local reporters told CPJ.

Local authorities have not identified any suspects, nor disclosed any motives for the crime, the spokesman at the prosecutor’s office said.

CPJ is investigating to determine whether Olivera was killed in direct relation to his journalism. Mexico is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the press, CPJ research shows